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Sunni politician dies in shootout

By CNN's Ash-har Quraishi

Tariq (left) is kissed by a follower after his release from prison in 2002.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Gunmen opened fire on five people in a government car in Islamabad, killing them all, including a prominent Sunni Muslim politician.

The car carrying Maulana Azam Tariq and four other people came under fire between 3:30 and 4 p.m. (6:30-7 a.m. ET) Monday, when it stopped at a toll booth at the entrance to Islamabad.

Unknown gunmen in an SUV drove up alongside and sprayed the car with automatic weapons, police said.

Tariq, 45, had been en route to Islamabad to attend a session of the National Assembly, which was to meet at 5 p.m. (9 a.m. ET).

The victims were taken to Pims Hospital, where they were declared dead. Soon afterward, a number of politicians, protected by a busload of police, arrived at the hospital to pay their respects.

Police said they were on high alert in case of reprisals.

Tariq was a controversial candidate because he had led an extremist, militant Sunni group called Sipah-e-Sahaba, which Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf banned in January 2002.

One of its arms is a more radical militant group known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which government authorities say is responsible for hundreds of sectarian killings.

Sunnis are the majority Muslim sect in Pakistan, and the group is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Shiite Muslims, the nation's minority, over the past few years.

Lawsuits were filed in court to keep him from running, but he went on to win a seat in the National Assembly.

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